Native sights and sounds

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Enjoying the fruits of one’s labour is the most satisfying part of working on a project. After spending six weeks in Montreal aiding youth in the art of filmmaking and production, Wapikoni Mobile showcased the work produced by young urban Aboriginals.

On November 13, Wapikoni Mobile screened nine short films and music videos produced by Aboriginals living Montreal at the 11 Nations Art Gallery in the Old Port. It’s fitting that they chose 11 Nations to screen these works because thanks to the generosity of curator Nadine St. Louis, Wapikoni Mobile setup a small production studio for the youth there.

What made Wapikoni Mobile’s work in Montreal different from the other First Nations communities that they have visited was that in the city they weren’t working with individuals from only one First Nation, but a group of youth from all the First Nations of Quebec.

Speaking to the large crowd that had gather for the screening, Manon Barbeau, the director and founder of Wapikoni Mobile, said, “Thank you all for being here and supporting First Nations art. I love you all.”

The evening started with three short films that were produced prior to Wapikoni Mobile’s Montreal visit. The first one, Corriger le tableau (Correct the Blackboard), is simple in its aesthetic yet powerful in its message.

Afterwards, they showed a short showcasing the lives of the Mapuche Indians of Chile, followed by Micta, an experimental short that is hard to describe yet visually quite beautiful.

After the three clips, the crowd was ready for the nine new shorts. The first was Anemeshu Ishkueu, a music video by local musician Tony James Tooma, whose song was about love and heartbreak as well as the difficulties in life.

Following Tooma’s music clip was a short film by Melissa Mollen Dupuis, who in fact, filmed two videos during the time Wapikoni Mobile was in Montreal. The mentors at Wapikoni were quite impressed with Dupuis’ tenacity, resolve and ability to jump at any opportunity that presented itself. Prior to the screening Dupuis said, “A big thanks to Wapikoni Mobile for encouraging us and making our ideas come to life on screen.”

The first of Dupuis’ two films was about Montreal’s annual march for the missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Showcasing the growth of the movement, the video provided statistics and information regarding this ongoing problem faced by many Aboriginal women.

Her second film was a window into the world of beading amongst the First Nations of Quebec. Not only did Dupuis relate beading’s importance to the culture and history of First Nations, but provided on a more personal view on how beading can be a fun and relaxing activity.

On a different note, the short documentary, Dave l’indien deals with the subject of homelessness and generosity. According to director David Dumais, “It’s about demystifying the life of the homeless.”

During the screening, two up-and-coming Aboriginal rappers, Joey Ruperthouse and Joey Shaw, showcased their musical and video talents to the audience. Ruperthouse dedicated his song Il faut que t’arrêtes ça to his brother who passed away two weeks after the video shoot. “I made this rap video against drug abuse and to show how it affected my family,” Ruperthouse said.

Shaw dedicated his rap and spoken-word video, Survival of the Fittest, to his mother who passed away when he was 16. “I heard about Wapikoni Mobile a few years back and when I heard they were coming to Montreal I reached out to them,” Shaw said. “Something inspired me and they helped me make a project of this calibre.”

The remaining shorts were produced as a team effort by all the youths who participated in the workshop. The first was We Are Not Alone, which offers a peek into Native spirituality and experiences in sweat lodges. The second group video was A Long Time Ago, an animated short telling the story of a hunter struggling for survival.

The last of the three was Living in Montreal, which was quite an eye-opener as it provided a glimpse into what compelled some Natives to come to Montreal.

The experience and training that these young Aboriginal artists got from Wapikoni Mobile will definitely have a lasting effect on them and help change the Aboriginal art landscape in Quebec

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